The Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team added two more wins as they passed the 20 win mark for the second consecutive season.
On Wednesday, the Green Wave of Tulane traveled to the Reynolds Center to face Tulsa. For the first 18 minutes of gameplay, the two teams couldn’t separate themselves from each other. The first half featured a tied score six different times, along with nine lead changes.
Tulane guard Louis Dabney had a very strong first half, as he scored 17 of the first 19 points for Tulane. Tulsa was having trouble shooting the ball from the perimeter in the first half and turned the ball over multiple times. This combination led to Tulane taking a 14–9 lead seven minutes into the contest. Tulsa scored six consecutive points after that, however, to take a one-point lead. Because their perimeter shots were not falling, the Golden Hurricane relied heavily on their inside game, and had a 18–6 advantage over the Green Wave in terms of points in the paint in the first half.
As the first half progressed on, Tulsa was able to contain Dabney, preventing him from scoring for a period of about ten minutes. With the half coming to a close, Tulsa got hot on offense, and used a 9–0 run to reach a 34–26 advantage that they took into halftime.
In the second half, the lead was still nine for the first two minutes of the half, but from there, the Golden Hurricane never led by less than 10. Tulsa played strong on defense, and started to make shots from the perimeter on offense. In the second half, TU shot 70 percent from behind the three-point line, including a stretch where 12 consecutive Tulsa points came from three-pointers: three from guard James Woodard and one from guard Marquel Curtis.
Tulsa pushed the lead to twenty at 61–41 with six minutes remaining, and then up to 25 at 66–41 with five minutes left. Dabney started to get hot again, but Tulsa guard Rashad Ray countered Dabney with some sharp shooting from behind the three-point arc.
The 76–55 win gave Tulsa their 20th victory of the season. This season is the second season in a row they have achieved that mark.
Tulsa then traveled to Memphis to play an away game against the Tigers on Saturday.
Throughout the game, the teams were evenly matched. It took ten minutes of play for either team to take a lead of more than three points, which Memphis accomplished with a four point lead of 17–13. Tulsa cut the lead to one at 17–16, but Memphis then pulled away and reached the largest lead of either team for the game, a nine-point lead at 27–18 with six minutes remaining in the half. Tulsa fought back to keep the game close, and managed to pull within two with a score of 36–34 before the halftime break.
The second half saw much of the same gameplay as the first half, with the game still tightly contested. It took Tulsa five minutes into the half to pull ahead of the Tigers again, but they could only hold their small lead momentarily. After Tulsa took the lead, Memphis went on a run and again managed to pull out to a nine point lead at 60–51 with eight minutes left in the game. The Golden Hurricane had to fight back into the game again, and with a 12–3 run brought the score level at 63–63 with two minutes remaining. The teams traded scores, and regulation ended with the score knotted at 66–66.
In overtime, Tulsa guard Shaquille Harrison took matters into his own hands, and scored all eight Golden Hurricane points in the extra period. He outscored the Tigers 8–6 in overtime.
After a balanced team effort, the Golden Hurricane came away with a 74–72 overtime victory. After the game, coach Frank Haith said, “It was a great win. I just feel that it’s a heck of a win for us to get on the road.” Tulsa played a well-rounded game, scoring 38 points in the paint, converting turnovers into 16 points, and receiving strong contributions from bench players, including 33 bench points. Harrison led Tulsa scorers with 23 points, and Ray chipped in 18 in another strong performance.
With the victories, Tulsa now has a record of 21–7 (14–2 American Athletic Conference). They have now pulled level with SMU for a tie atop the American Athletic Conference standings, but the Mustangs have the tiebreaker after beating Tulsa earlier in the season. With their strong play in conference this season, Tulsa has earned a bye in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament, which will take place March 11–15.
The Golden Hurricane next play on Wednesday in their final home game of the season, against the third place Bearcats of Cincinnati. After that, they travel to Dallas on Sunday to face SMU (who lost to UConn on Sunday), where the American Athletic Conference regular season title will be on the line.